Skip to comments.How Reliable Is the M-16 Rifle? Part I
Posted on 11/03/2009 4:58:22 AM PST by Saije
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I wonder if part of the problem is due to the way the weapon is used. I know my AR-14 is a fine, well functioning rifle, but, OTOH, my rate of fire is no where NEAR the rate of fire the battefield version is subjected to.
I shoot one round, maybe two, in 30 seconds. It sounds as if problems develop when soldiers are shooting/returning fire in an automatic mode, high rates of fire, several hundreds of rounds at a time.
Each M-14 magazine contains what? 30 rounds? In a firefight, I would imagine a soldier could go through several magazines in a very short time.
I wonder what the venerable M1A's rate of fire was?
Did the soldiers of WWII fire such high rates of fire with the M1A Garand? Wasn't the M1 the "standard military issue" battle rifle of the WWII GI? How did we win the war (on both fronts, BTW) with such a heavy, cumbersome, slow-rate-of-fire weapon? Could it POSSIBLY be the operator or technique, and how the weapon was used, and NOT the weapon itself?
I have seen many old WWII teaching films, and they spent lots and lots of time on some basics of shooting stances, aiming, trigger control, etc. How much is taught now-a-days? It seems, from a civilian point of view, that these automatic weapons are used to throw a lot of lead down range in a major hurry, and I don't know of many weapons who could stand up to such high rates of fire, consistently, in ANY AO, much less over in the conditions they are in now.
I guess, in summary, what I am wondering is it the weapons' fault, or is there other areas we should be looking at before we blame the weapon.
Whether you admire it or not doesn’t matter. That’s the plain reality of arms manufacturing.
In addition to the aforementioned AT-4, Marines are also using the LAV (a derivative of the European MOWAG Piranha), the Bandvagn 206 all-terrain vehicle and the Bofors gun (both also from Sweden).
It's all about fitting and tolerances. The M-16 is a precision tool, the AK is a hammer and anvil.
Both will reliably do what they are designed to do if the shooter understands the weapons basic maintenance requirements.
The AK-47 can do it because of the loose tolerances. They aren't the most accurate weapon, but they're reliable. There aren't a lot of times when you can take deliberate aim before firing in a gun fight without exposing your cranium to enemy fire. In addition, the bad guys just refuse to stand out in the open and not move. They're usually hiding behind something or moving, so you end up shooting in the direction where you think they're firing from. As long as you keep firing, they can't maneuver or take careful aim either. That means the guy with the reliable rifle is usually going to prevail.
However, after that the M-16 and the numerous variations became a damn good weapon but it should never be considered the only one.
It lacks the ability to really reach out and touch the hell out of someone at 500 plus yards like the old Garand or M-14 can. It requires a cleaner touch than the AR-47 and the standard M-16 round does not have the punch of the AK's 7.62 at close range.
Having fooled around and fired just about all the issue small arms from World War One up to Iraq, I'd rate the M-16 family of rifles as an excellent choice within its designed envelope of use.
However, as Bob Heinlein taught me at a very early age, "There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men."
I keep that in mind even while holding... my old, out of date Thompson.
But I still keep my K-Bar on the nightstand.
Even today, one is STILL well armed with ANY properly functioning Thompson variant. The M1928A1 with the Lyman sight makes the most of the admittedly limited range of the .45ACP round. I know because I (ahem) “liberated” one in Vietnam and was VERY impressed with it’s capabilities and that 50 round drum.
Couldn’t agree more with your comments on the AR/M16 familiy of rifles. It IS an excellent rifle as long as it’s design/ammunition parameters are kept in mind
Have you read the excellent “Tommy Gun” by Bill Yenne? It is a most enjoyable military and social history of the Thompson Gun. I highly recommend it to any one interested in firearms history.
Just ordered one from Amazon for $14.25... a real savings from the $26.99 retail!
Soldiers in WWII actually had to be RETRAINED from the standard “basic rifle marksmanship” they received in the pre-war Army.
Upon arriving at the battlefield, they found that maneuver was critical and that large volumes of suppressive fire were required. New soldiers were practicing what they were taught in the states, taking their time to aim and place single shots.
While the M-1 garand (M1A is the civvy M-14 nomenclature) only had an eight-round en bloc clip, it was much better than the German bolt-action mausers. Once the American soldiers learned the art of maneuver and the accompanying suppressive fire, the Germans were at an even worse disadvantage.
And, really, it wasn’t a rifle that won the European war.
It was the artillery.
What a great site...I’m LMAO!!
Gadzooks! You mean... Obama didn't win World War Duce and awarded the Nobel peace Prize for doing it????
BTW When the Texas National Guard was federalized in 1940 as the 36th Infantry Divison, my dear old Pappy was in the 132nd Field Artillery Battalion out of Kerens, Texas.
Yet he disagreed with Eisenhower who once said the two pieces of equipment that were most influential in winning the war were the jeep and the C-47. Dad said Ike forgot the "Duce and a half" truck, the LST, the M-1 Garand and M114 155 mm howitzer.
The guy called the cops to have them come pick it up....
One claimed he was making up new Stens from parts and new receivers he made himself, but the ATF found it funny the newly manufactured receivers, he claimed to have made from scratch, had the British proof marks & serial numbers under the parkarizing. I believe he is still serving time for selling as new those off paper Stens. He got 25 to life in 1974 but knowing Ross even as liitle as I did, he would never be able to keep his nose clean for long.
The first time I saw him at a Houston Gun Show in 1971 or 2, if I recall correctly, he was wearing ragged Levis tucked into mirror bright shinned Aggies Senior knee-high riding boots (Yet he never went to A&M nor rode a horse), a yellow Ban-lon golf shirt under a Waffen SS Standartenführer tunic and a coonskin Davy Crockett hat cocked sideways where the tail hung down the right side of his heavily bearded face.
Hey, my old Pappy always said clothes make the man... And those sure did mark Ross as someone you'd never forget!
So you're saying he got l*** a lot then. I mean how could ANY lady resist a package that complete?
I nearly weep when I think about that Thompson behind that wall for all those years and what it would bring on the open market if it weren't for the 1968 GCA.
What - and Belgian civilians get to purchase these? It has to be more than just that. The past 30 years have seen American firms in nearly every industry from machine tools to consumer electronics either collapse entirely or become shells of what they once were. Either way domestic innovation has stopped.
What to expect when domestic manufacture is either exported for significant cost savings, or prohibited outright?
“Good enough for me, unless you want to go for lesser, American-designed options.”
It’s bad enough that we have laws that limit development to large companies, now we have to deal with the contempt of our fellow citizens - that American designs are inferior. Geez. Is it any wonder that so few want to go into engineering? Law and business is so much easier and more profitable.....
Especially when trying to compete with state-owned companies.
“If I remember correctly, the other problem was that the M-16 was designed to use gun cotton (nitrocellulose). “
I think you’re thinking of the extruded vs ball powder issue. The ball powder that was the problem was also made from nitrocellulose, of course. I understand it was one of the additives that was the problem with that particular ball powder. Modern ball powder is fine.
I notice that some states close the bars during voting hours, but I have
yet to hear of gun ranges being closed. Hmmm. /grin
Do you think the Army would hand out a couple thousand M-16’s and M-4’s so we can test them for ourselves? ;-)
Always keep in mind that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
I don’t think there’s a problem. Just issue ammo like WWII Garands. Issue eight round magazines and only forty rounds of ammo.
That will cure any jamming problem.
I have a Saiga 12 which has, to date, never worked. It’s a single shot.
You can blame the American gunmakers for that brand of protectionism.
That “contempt” comes from knowlege of the designs, not any particular derision of American companies or designers.
Get over it. FN makes a great product (as does Colt).
Our soldiers deserve THE BEST equipment, not equipment that you find politically expedient. If an American company (Magpul, for one) can step in and make a weapon that competes with the SCAR, the HK 416, and others, FINE. If not, that’s just the way it is.
“That contempt comes from knowlege of the designs, not any particular derision of American companies or designers.”
FN’s M16 is an American design. The M2 is another one of those “inferior” designs. THe G36 (what the vaunted, but no better than the M16, XM8, was based on) is a knockoff of another Stoner design. I could go on. FN makes good products, but the are a foreign entity. Relying on foreign countries for the basics of our defense is foolhardy.
“If an American company (Magpul, for one) can step in and make a weapon that competes with the SCAR, the HK 416, and others, FINE. If not, thats just the way it is.”
At one point in our history, we thought it critical to not only have the production of our defense material be located in the US, but that it also be under our control. Now, many US contenders are removed from competition early in the review process regardless of “design” or are restricted by the ATF from competing.
“Oh BTW the M-4 is made by Beretta.”
Don’t you mean the M9?
Dang yes, more coffee please.
Great job pointing out OLD designs.
I’ve worked on numerous multi-national weapons systems.
Do you have a problem with the seven-country participation and adoption of the MLRS system? How about our own adoption of British canonry and German tank guns?
In the end, the manufacturing ability for the M-16 remains in the US, or do you think Belgium will take the M-16 design back home with them? All FN small arms the US military procures are made in the USA. What more do you want?
Again, any new rifle is going to be made in America.
Sure, the ATF gets in the way of almost any new American small arms development. I cannot imagine what Magpul went through. But this is the fault of our government, not our manufacturing base.
“Ive worked on numerous multi-national weapons systems.”
So have I.
“How about our own adoption of British canonry and German tank guns?”
Yes, I do, frankly.
XM8 was supposed to be “new”. What “newer” designs are we talking about? The 416 and SCAR are not particularly “new” designs either. One of the few “new” designs was the P90 and that is not exactly “new”, either.
“Again, any new rifle is going to be made in America.
Sure, the ATF gets in the way of almost any new American small arms development. I cannot imagine what Magpul went through. But this is the fault of our government, not our manufacturing base.”
This is what keeps new designs out of the market. Companies like H&K and FN have IRAD to through at problems and can do their R&D overseas.
The only time we’re going to see something “new” is if we move to a new form of ammunition. The metallic cartridge is constrained to the designs of the last 100 years. So, anything “new” will be an evolution of existing designs, not a revolution.
However, manufacturing technology does change, and it’s that technology that will allow for advances along the current genus of weapons. Newer, lighter, more durable metals. More use of plastics and polymers. The inclusion of a wider array of optics and accessories. The MagPul ACR (now being developed and produced by Bushmaster) was really the newest thing we’ve seen in quite a while. I hope it makes it to the civvy market, as my three ARs are starting to seem “old”.
I think we can both agree that American designs and manufacturers would benefit if the ATF(E) would get the hell out of the way.
“The only time were going to see something new is if we move to a new form of ammunition. The metallic cartridge is constrained to the designs of the last 100 years. So, anything new will be an evolution of existing designs, not a revolution.”
Caseless is not practical as it stands, so we’ll have cased ammunition for some time to come. Possibly polymer case, but if the military does that, it’ll put a pretty serious crimp in my reloading. ;)
“The MagPul ACR (now being developed and produced by Bushmaster) was really the newest thing weve seen in quite a while. I hope it makes it to the civvy market, as my three ARs are starting to seem old.”
Kel-Tec’s .308 bullpup looks interesting. Especially the forward eject.
I’d like to see the return of service-owned arms development as run by the Springfield Armory (the whiz kids thought better, so they closed it down). With solicitations for new designs complete with parts. The SBIR system helps in funding small designers, but weapons development is both mostly illegal thanks to the laws and expensive.
Another problem is that politics, not quality, is also a consideration for procurement from foreign sources. The M9 pistol is not really the BEST weapon in its class, is it? No.
“I think we can both agree that American designs and manufacturers would benefit if the ATF(E) would get the hell out of the way.”
A much superior weapon is the HK-91. the 93 is the 5.56 version. Both are vastly superior to the M-16, because they are fully gas operated in a way that guarantees reliability. They vent spent gases through the chamber through grooves between the casing and chamber. This forces the casing to release itself from the chamber before the gases drive the bolt rearward. This eliminates the need for an extractor. The ejector is also brilliantly engineered.
I have seen demonstrations of this weapon being dipped in mud, mixed with sand and salt water, fired, dipped again, fired, and then buried in dry desert sand and immediately fired on full auto. And it never missed a beat the whole time. (Try that with an M-16)
they need to look hard at the FN-SCAR...in 5.56 or 6.8SPC.
The M9A1 is made by Beretta USA.
OH, I agree the AR is more finely built, and much more ACCURATE than the AK. Just not neary so RELIABLE.
The M-16 and it's variants works just fine if they are properly cared for. What they are not designed to do is, as they were in the attack in Afghanistan, required to fire over 3000 rounds in a sustained fire fight. We aren't geared to fight that way. We are geared to pin the enemy then destroy them with fire support. Are fights are not suppose to last this long
What happened in Afghanistan was some one in the chain of command screwed up. Those guys should not of been left hanging out on the end of a limb unspupported like that.
The AR is just as reliable as the AK, if you perform some cleaning once in a while. Its not like having to brush your teeth or anything.
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